Cheaper versions of Continental’s Mountain King are a regular feature when buying a complete bike. However, paying extra for the full-spec Protection version gets you a much tougher carcass and a more advanced Black Chili rubber compound.
The Protection layer wraps round almost the full carcass from just above the tubeless-compatible beads on either side and adds scuff and sharp protection. The flat, folded delivery means they’re not the simplest tubeless fit, but you can get a reliable seal on most rims in the end.
Small volume for a 2.2in means they tend to ricochet around rather than roll through trouble. But they never feel harsh and the 2.4 is massive if you want big volume.
Rather than multiple compounds in different places, Continental uses an intermediate Black Chili rubber compound. The wide spaced, relatively tall block tread gives decent braking and driving traction in soft or loose conditions and the compound hangs on well on better-groomed or bermed trails.
Wear life is very good, which increases real-world value for money, and despite a growly feel they roll okay too. You’ll still need to be wary of trusting the edge and cornering grip too much in really wet, rooty and rocky conditions, as the shoulder tread is a long way round the side of the carcass with a noticeable gap to get there.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.